Richard Nixon has been keeping me up at night for months, which is troubling as he was president of America before I was born. The reason the squalid mind of Nixon has been in my thoughts at night is because I'm writing a book about psychopathic traits and cultures. He is included.
The release of tapes from his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, revealing that Nixon deliberately destabilised Vietnam peace talks to save his presidential campaign, made me realise he deserves more space in my book.
It is well known that Nixon's team burgled and bugged the Watergate building in Washington to steal information from political rivals and help him get re-elected in 1972. The Johnson tapes cast a whole new light on Nixon's callous power-hungry deviousness.
They reveal that he put his desire to get elected in 1968 ahead of young American lives and peace in the world by derailing an opportunity to stop the war. Tens of thousands of people died after that chance of peace was lost and Nixon gained power. In his inaugural address Nixon spoke of the importance of being a peacemaker. These words proved hollow as he subsequently escalated the conflict into Laos and Cambodia - and given what we now know about his actions in 1968, they also appear chillingly psychopathic.
In the summer of 1968 there was a breakthrough in Paris peace talks. Nixon knew that peace would thwart his political ambitions and so sabotaged a Paris settlement by establishing covert negotiations with Vietnamese diplomats. For this he used Anna Chennault - his campaign advisor.
Nixon had Chennault communicate the message that the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the Paris talks and suggest that if Nixon was elected they would get a better deal than from Johnson. As a result of that concessions previously offered by South Vietnam, that would have enabled Johnson to stop bombing the country, were withdrawn. Tragically, the Vietnamese ceased negotiations the day before Johnson was to stop to the bombing.
The Lyndon Johnson tapes reveal that the president was well-aware of Nixon's destabilisation of the peace talks but because he gained the information through FBI phone interceptions he did not make it public.
Nixon's case shows the lengths some politicians will go to seize and maintain power. As well as gaining and maintaining power by malicious and illegal means, Nixon has helped tarnish the reputation of politicians internationally. It is hard for modern politicians to claim integrity when people like Nixon make them look inherently devious, selfish and morally bankrupt. In a word - psychopathic.
Considering the hallmarks of psychopathy, as laid out in the latest 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders', in relation to Nixon is interesting. Many of his 'qualities' seem to fit the characteristics of the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. These include: self-esteem derived from personal gain, power, or pleasure; failure to conform to lawful or culturally normative ethical behaviour, lack of concern for feelings, needs, or suffering of others; lack of remorse after hurting or mistreating another, exploitation is a primary means of relating to others, deceit, the use of dominance or intimidation to control others and misrepresentation of the self.
By letting the Vietnam War continue for several more years, tens of thousands more people died. This, to further his own political ambitions, suggests to me that Nixon had more blood on his hands than anyone on death row.